Chicken Satay – v1 – June 2010

You know, I’ve made chicken satays once before, but that was many many years ago. And since I don’t have central air in my house, I’m looking to cook as much food outside as possible. So doing some grilling fits the bill.
I had two recipes on file for chicken satay, but I really don’t remember which one I used when I made this dish years ago. So I kind of combined parts of both recipes (here & here) and create a new recipe. My usual cooking notes are listed below, so lists get on to the ingredient list:

  • 2 Chicken breasts and 2 chicken breast tenders (which were from a whole chicken that I de-boned myself)
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 2 TB Fish Sauce
  • 1 TB Hoisin Sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TB of fresh ginger, minced

Combine all the ingredients listed in a bowl ( minus the chicken) and whisk it all together. Personally I used my Braun stick blender to get it all mixed up. Then cut up the chicken so that it is in pieces about 1/2″ wide by 1/2” thick and 2” long. Take the chicken and skewer about two or three chicken pieces onto each bamboo skewer. Once all the chicken is skewered give it a pretty heavy coating of the peanut sauce, and let it marinade for about 24 hours in the fridge. You’ll have more then enough sauce to coat all the chicken skewers, plus 2 cups of leftover sauce.
Once the chicken is done marinating overnight, I cooked the satays on the Weber for about a minute or two a side, but basically until browned and firm to the touch.

And the results, pretty good if I do say so, but check out the side notes for what I would do differently next time. Enjoy.

Side notes:
1) Don’t bother using bamboo skewers. Sure they look cool, but stick with stainless steel skewers.
2) Needs more spice, since I barely tasted any of the red pepper flakes that I did add. So I’d probably pump it up to a full teaspoon the next time.
3) I’m also thinking about tweaking the liquid ingredients. Since I really don’t think that the sesame oil added anything extra, so I would just increase the vegetable oil to 1.5 cups.
4) Also I just happened to find out that fish sauce is totally awesome, so I would cut back on the soy sauce and increase the fish sauce, so that each was a 1/4 cup.
5) Have you noticed that there isn’t any salt in the recipe? It because the soy sauce and fish sauce have plenty of salt to begin with, so adding in some kosher salt doesn’t make any sense.
6) If you don’t want any leftover peanut sauce, just cut the sauce recipe in half.

Picked up June/July 2010 Wine Club Shipment from Domaine Carneros

I picked up my shipment at the UPS Depot with JRR a few weekends back. And this months shipment is really nothing that I haven’t received before from Carneros, other then being a new vintage (hence no pics posted.) So with that, for this month’s shipment I received a 2006 Vermeil Demi-Sec and a 2008 Avant-Garde Merlot. Personally I like more of a Brut in my sparkling wine, compared to a Demi-Sec. But I suppose you have to mix it up every once in a while, even if it may be forced upon you. Bottoms Up.

Garden – 06/16/2010 – Setting up the trellis

The tomatoes are starting to get fairly tall and a couple already have blossoms, so I think its about time to setup the trellis system for this year. In years past I’ve left the upper crossbars in place and them tried to space the plants under the crossbars. But at the end of last season I took down all the 1/2″ EMT conduit crossbars, since it really wasn’t the best setup for what I was trying to do. Continue reading

Salad Table – 06/10/2010

I’ve posted a couple of close up shots of the compost/potato bins, so that you can get a good look at the coat hanger wires that are used to hold all the pallets together. Boy do those grass clipping need a good turning in the bin, but its kind of surprising that I’m still able to add grass clippings to the pile. Since with last years cinder block compost bin, in only two mowing I had filled the bin to the top. Plus now that I’m looking it over, I might pull some of the clippings out of the bin, and lay them down as ground mulch out in the garden, since the weed situation on the right half of the garden is still out of control. I ended up pulled up two 5 gallon buckets of weeds from the garden one afternoon and it barely looks like I made a dent. Continue reading

Garden – 06/10/2010

Man oh man, look at all those weeds on the right hand side of the garden. It looks like its finally time to do a little bit of weeding in the garden, even though I haven’t been looking forward to the task. But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

Overall, everything seems to be coming in nicely. The sweet corn and rhubarb are growing like gangbusters. The tomatoes finally seem to be growing well. Maybe in another week or so I’ll prune off all the suckers on the tomatoes, and string them up to the trellis. Continue reading

Potato Chip Review – Barcel Kettle Style – Jalapeno & A La Diabla

You know sometimes I roll the dice on a couple of random bags of chips. My last random roll was at my local Mexican bodega on two bags of Barcel brand kettle cooked chips, with the flavors being Jalapeno and the other A La Diabla (red hot chili pepper.) And the results were 50/50, so lets start with the loser, which were the a la diabla, and talk about a strange looking chip. First off they had a strange color, almost like they had been rolled around in cinnamon sugar instead of chili powder. And the taste, it’s like a citric acid overload with a little bit of chili heat. So if you are looking for fake lime taste and some chili heat, on a cinnamon sugar looking chips, then check these out. But personally I’ll take a pass.

So onto the stand out flavor, which were the Jalapeno kettle chips. And talk about a winner in my book. The first thing that got me sucked in was the smell from the bag. Since the chips smelled exactly like a bag of fresh cut jalapenos. But for the smell being so strong the taste was very mild, and that kind of surprised me in a good way. In that the chips had a jalapeno/green pepper kind of flavor, but not very much of that jalapeno heat, so it made them very easy to eat. And because they are kettle style chips, the crunchiness of these chips kind of reminded me of Kruncher’s Jalapano chips. So notch these Jalapeno chips up of the totem pole, because I would definitely like to get them again.

Side notes for both of these chips:

  1. The cartoon pepper on both bags is pretty funny, but it wasn’t enough to sway my decision on not liking the a la diabla flavored chips. I guess better luck next time Barcel.
  2. &

  3. For both of these Barcel brand chips, of all the ingredients listed on the bag, one of the ingredients is MSG, and its listed in bold no less! I really don’t know how to react to this, other then with “oh well”. But I guess if your looking to go out of your way to get some potato chips with MSG, than check out the chips from Barcel.

Used wooden pallets as a potato growing bin – 2010

Editors Note: This should have been posted months ago. Sorry for the delay, but this should hopefully answer a bunch of questions about the pallet set-up from other pics posted on miia.

When I was in Michigan a few months back for a little bit of R & R. In the backyard of my buddy’s house, he had converted a bunch of old pallets into three side-by-side composting bins. So after a few beers and some meat smoking, it got me to thinking about the large pile of pallets just sitting at the end of driveway that I never bothered to dispose of (it was more like I felt bad throwing away good wood, so that’s why the pallets were really piled up.) In that instead of using the pallets for a compost bin, that maybe I could grow potatoes in them instead. Continue reading

Potato Chip Review – Better Made – Rainbow Old Fashioned Dark Potato Chips

Have you ever opened up a bag of chips and noticed a couple of dark chips in the bag?
Now think, what if you bought a bag of chips and it was nothing but all of those dark chips. Well that is what you get with Better Made Rainbow Old Fashioned Dark Potato Chips.

As you are probably well aware, I’m basically game for trying any flavor (e.g. shrimp chips) or type of chips/crisps (e.g. Hawaiian taro chips). But after I read the back to the bag to find out what these Rainbow chips were all about. I have to tell you, I started to have second thoughts about what I just got myself into. But seeing how I had already bought the bag by the time I found out what these chips were all out, it was too late to back out.

So what did I think of these chips? To be honest, I’m on the fence with these chips, since it’s such a unique flavor. But calling it a flavor doesn’t really do these chips justice. Since you really can’t call it a burnt taste, since technically the chips aren’t burnt, it’s only due to the potatoes high sugar content that they darken while cooking. They are just slightly sweet from the caramelization during frying, but it isn’t the traditional kind of sugar sweetness that you would think of from maybe a brown sugar or white sugar. The only way I can describe the taste of these chips is that they are a complex taste not meant for kids, when you think that all they started with was just potatoes, salt and cottonseed oil.

Would I get another bag of these chips: maybe (leaning toward yes.) There is something about these chips that almost makes them the anti-chips of traditional plain chips, which is a tough concept to wrap your head around. Since traditional plain potato chips are paper thin, pretty salty, light yellow in color and slightly oily. While these chips are the exact opposite in that they are close to kettle cut thickness, not salty, dark brown and not really oily. In conclusion if you are at a Busch’s or Hiller’s Market in Metro Detroit go and pick yourself up a bag, and get ready to push the limits on the concept of what you think a potato chip should taste like. Nuff said.

Better Made – What are Rainbow Chips?

Salad Table – 05/31/2010

Here are some better shots of the salad table, growing away like crazy. One thing that I’ve started to notice is that I might have planted the greens on the table a little bit too heavy. Since the plants almost seem to be crowding each other out for light/water/nutrients.

So what I’ve started to do, is some light trimming of the greens on the outside boarders. And then within each type of green, I’ve started to trim out plugs of baby greens, and then brushed around the remaining plants to fill in the gaps. We’ll see if this ad-hoc crowd control method works, since I’d still really like the maximize the yields from each planted cell.

I also tossed in a couple of shots of the wooden pallet compost bin, with the potato/carrot growing bin right next to it. Who knows if anything is really going to pan out vegetable wise with that bin. But as the old saying goes, nothing ventured nothing gained.

Garden – 05/31/2010

As you can probably tell, this is basically just a random dump of pics from the back garden. It seems like most of the plants are doing well. I finally spent some time during Memorial Day weekend to re-do the fence around the garden. Since each morning as I was leaving for work before the fence was fixed, the rabbits were basically using my garden as their personal buffet line. With the worst of the damage being on the tomatoes and swiss chard.

For some strange reason out of the four different beans/peas that I planted in the front right corner. The only seeds that really didn’t germinate at all were the Snow Snap peas from johnny’s, so go figure. But the Xera and Carson both seem to be coming on nice and strong, which is fine with me. Since the only ones that I really care about are the Carson’s, since they are a yellow wax bean. So if I’m able to harvest anything from the other three beans/peas, I’ll consider it a bonus in my book.